Translating Employment Matters for Multinationals

Legal Translation Services for In-House Counsel

We’ve blogged about legal translation services for the global HR and the workplace language laws requiring multinational companies to translate corporate communications into the languages spoken by their local in-country employees and to project corporate responsibility.

The economy is always in flux. These days, however, there seems to be a lot of reasons for extra volatility in the global economy. Indeed, Brexit has disrupted many systems and norms in Europe, there are ongoing tariff changes between China and the United States, and there is an overall trend towards protectionism and isolation on a global scale. Those factors paint a picture of a global economic system in which multinational corporations must remain flexible to weather the turbulence of ongoing changes.

With the prospect of changes in supply chains and consumer demand in today’s climate, multinational corporations must keep an eye on workforce numbers. In order to keep output at the proper levels, while keeping a workforce that maximizes efficiencies, there is the need to manage human capital from time to time.

This article will delve into the steps any in-house counsel for a multinational company must consider when the company is trying to make specific changes in its workforce to combat the unpredictability of the global economic forces in play today. First, we will consider the types of cost-realignment strategies that you can employ with regard to a company’s employees. Next, we will discuss the legalities surrounding such cost-realignment strategies. Finally, we will cover how to communicate human resource changes to your global workforce.

Cost-Management Approaches for Uncertain Economic Changes

Given that human capital is often the most expensive input in any business, multinational or otherwise, companies will be looking at “right-sizing” their workforces to match the uncertain economic times. Before resorting to layoffs, however, multinational companies can employ a number of strategies to make sure that they have the workforce that will satisfy their projected needs. Those strategies are as follows:

1. Reducing workforce schedules;
2. Instituting unpaid time off or vacation;
3. Shutting down certain operations temporarily; or
4. Providing for compensation reductions or benefit forfeitures.

Therefore, rather than resorting to layoffs, companies can use one or several of the approaches above to keep the workforce number the same, yet save on human resource costs when demand does not support using the workforce at full capacity.

Employment Changes to Weather Economic Storms

Once a multinational company identifies a need to manage human resource costs, the next question becomes – are those changes legal? In the United States there are federal and state law constraints on the amount of concessions that can be requested of a workforce. For multinational corporations, that issue expands exponentially given that the companies must now consider the law and regulations of all of the countries in which they do business.

Accordingly, as in-house counsel for a multinational corporation, you need to make a number of calculations with the help of experienced employment counsel. First, you need to consider the agreements made with any unions that operate in your organization. The collective bargaining agreements between the corporation and the union will delineate what flexibility is available with regard to workforce changes.

Then, you must consult the specific laws of each country in which your employees are impacted. Though the United States is largely an “at will” employment environment, other countries provide greater protections for employees. Therefore, in some cases, you may want to implement a cost-management human resources strategy, but the host country’s laws would preclude that particular approach.

Communicating Employment Changes in Foreign Languages

Once you have decided upon a cost-management strategy and you have ensured that it is an approach that will pass legal muster in the relevant jurisdictions, then you, as a multinational in-house counsel, have the job of communicating the new policies or procedures to your employees. That task can be trickier than you think.

Any message to employees about suggested changes must be drafted carefully so that the statements do not center on norms that are specific to only one country. Further, given that you are providing employment information in various countries, you should employ the help of a professional legal translation service. A legal translation service, like All Language Alliance, Inc., will help you make sure that your employment guide or announcement will be appropriate for all audiences that need to receive it.

Translate Corporate Policies Properly

Particularly when dealing with legal employment matters, you want to be sure that your policies are translated properly and in a way that conveys the precise legal message you need. Oftentimes, technical legal language is challenging to translate. A professional legal translator will understand how to make sure technical concepts are properly communicated in any language.

In sum, during uncertain times, like today, an overarching goal with any type of employment change is to avoid employment litigation where you can. That means that getting the assistance from experienced employment counsel is key to your success as in-house counsel. The skill to foresee possible legal hurdles, to plan prospectively, and to devise a reasonable approach in advising the company is your greatest value as in-house counsel. Thus, when a company is looking at cost-realignment strategies, or even reductions in the workforce, you can be prepared to properly guide your multinational company through the process.

That said, keep in mind that All Language Alliance, Inc. can be your go-to legal translators when you are looking to make employment changes that effect employees outside of the United States. Call us to learn more about partnering with All Language Alliance, Inc. at 303-470-9555 and how our legal translation services to Simplified Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, Korean, Traditional Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and other languages can protect your company’s interests and bottom line.

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